School of History


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Dr David Potter

Emeritus Reader


David Potter is a historian who specialises in the history of early modern France.

I taught early modern European History and specialise in researching the history of early modern France; it has been the history and culture of Renaissance France that has dominated my research and writing.

I have published studies on the military organization of late medieval and early modern France, in particular a monograph on Picardy, on the French nobility and on the court of France. My most recent books include Renaissance France at War, which looks not only at the military organization of France but at the making of war policy and the cultural dimensions of war.

I also publish work on Tudor diplomacy, one of my lasting interests. For instance, I am working on a study of Elizabethan foreign policy and have recently published a new book entitled Henry VIII and Francis I: the Final Conflict (Brill, 2011) on the Anglo-French conflicts of the 1540s. This has involved work in a large number of European and English archives.

My next project concerns Antoine de Bourbon, king of Navarre (d.1562) and I am preparing a two-volume collection of the letters and biographical studies of both Charles and Antoine de Bourbon, the grandfather and father of Henri IV of France. This is is virtually complete and should lead to a longer biographical study which seeks to revise Antoine de Bourbon’s role in the origins of the Wars of Religion. In addition, I am in the process of completing a study of one of Francis I’s ambassadors, Jacques Mesnage, based in his papers at the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris.

I have also participated in a project involving and international group of historians who are working on the counsellors of Francis I and in that context written a study in French on Anne de Pisseleu, duchesse d’Etampes, mistress of Francis I, for the book which was published this year.

Ultimately, my objective is to move on to a larger project of assembling the surviving correspondence of Francis I, in order to make it as readily available as that of Henry VIII.

I have supervised research theses on Tudor diplomacy and on French Renaissance history. As for my undergraduate teaching, this concentrated not only of French history but the political and social history of early modern Europe.

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  • Henry VIII and Francis I: the Final Conflict, 1540-47 (Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2011, ISBN 978-90-04-20431-7) xxx+562pp.
  • Renaissance France at War: Armies, Culture and Society, c.1480-1560, (Woodbridge, Boydell and Brewer, 2008) ISBN 978-1-84383-405-2, xviii+405pp.
  • Foreign Intelligence and Information Gathering in Elizabethan England: Two English Treatises on the State of France, 1579-84 Camden Society, Fifth Series, 25 (Cambridge UP, 2004) ISBN 05218477249, xxi+261 pp.
  • (editor) The Short Oxford History of France:  France in the Later Middle Ages (c.1200-1500) (Oxford UP, 2003) ISBN 0199250480 (pbk) 0199250472 (hbk), xiv + 288 pp.
  • Un homme de guerre au temps de la Renaissance: la vie et les lettres d’Oudart du Biez, maréchal de France et gouverneur de Picardie et de Boulogne (vers 1475-1553) (Arras, Artois Presses Université, 2001), 310 pp, ISBN: 2-910663-68-X
  • The French Wars of Religion: Selected Documents (London: Macmillan, 1998) ISBN 033364798X (Hbk); 0333647998 (Pbk) xxiv+274 pp
  • A History of France, 1460-1560: the Emergence of a Nation State (London: Macmillan, 1995) ISBN 0-333-54123-5 (hbk); 0-333-4-54124-3 (pbk), xvi + 438 pp.
  • War and Government in the French Provinces: Picardy 1470-1560 (Cambridge: CUP, 1993) ISBN 0-521-43189-1, xiv + 393 pp. paperback edn. (Cambridge: CUP, 2002) ISBN 0-521-89300-3, xiv + 393 pp.

Chapters in Books

  • ‘Anne de Pisseleu, duchesse d’Etampes, maîtresse et conseillère de François Ier’ in C. Michon (ed.), Les conseillers de François Ier (Rennes, 2011, ISBN 978-2-7535-1313-6), pp.535-556.
  • ‘War Propaganda, Literature and National Identity in Renaissance France, c.1480-1560’ in R. Stein and J. Pollman (eds.), Networks, regions and Nations: Shaping Identitries in the Low Countries 1300-1650 (Leiden, 2009), pp.173-94
  • Alliance, Clientèle and Political Action in Early Modern France: the Prince of Condé’s Association in 1562’ in Véronique Gazeau (ed.), Liens personnels, réseaux, solidarités en France et dans les îles Britanniques (XIe - XXe siècle), Personnal Links, Networks and Solidarities in France and the British Isles (11th - 20th Century), Actes de la table ronde organisée par le GDR 2136 et l’Université de Glasgow (10 - 11 mai 2002), Publications de la Sorbonne, 2006.
  • ‘The Emperor Charles V in the French Historical Tradition’ in The Histories of Charles V: Nationale Perpectiven von Persönlichkeit und Herrschaft ed. C. Scott Dixon and M. Fuchs, (Munster: Aschendorff, 2005) ISBN 3402065746, pp.135-57.
  • ‘Mid-Tudor Foreign Policy and Diplomacy, 1547-63’ in Doran and G. Richardson (eds.), Tudor England and its Neighbours, Macmillan, Themes in Focus (Basingstoke, 2005) ISBN 0-333-94611-1 (hbk) 0-333-94611-1 (pbk), p.106-38.
  • ‘Britain and the Wider World’ in A Companion to Tudor Britain ed. R. Tittler, N. Jones (Oxford: Blackwell, 2004), ISBN 063123618-X,  pp.182-200
  • ‘Chivalry and Professionalism in the French Armies of the Renaissance’ in D.J.B. Trim (ed.), The Chivalric Ethos and Military Professionalism, ISBN 9004120955 (Brill, 2002), p.149-182.
  • ‘The private face of Anglo-French relations in the sixteenth century: the Lisles and Their French Friends’, in D. Grummit(ed.), The English Experience in France in the 16th Century c.1450-1558: War, Diplomacy and Cultural Exchange, ISBN:0754605353 (Ashgate, 2002), p.200-222.
  • ‘The Habsburg Empire’, ‘The European State System in the 16th century’, ‘The Reformation and Counter-Reformation’, ‘The Baltic in the Early Modern Period’, ‘The Expansion of Russia’, ‘Early Modern Warfare’ and ‘Revolution and Stability in the Ancien Regime’ in Philips Atlas of World History: From the Origins of Humanity to the Year 2000, ed. P.K. O’Brien (London, 1999) ISBN 0540075833, pp.144-59.
  • ‘The frontiers of Artois in European diplomacy, 1482-1560’ in Arras et la diplomatie européenne - XVIe-XVIe siècles, ed. D. Clauzel, C. Giry-Deloison, C. Leduc (Arras: Artois Presses Université, 1999) ISBN 2-910663-40X, p.262-175
  • ‘Marlowe’s Massacre at Paris and the reputation of Henri III’ in D. Grantley and P. Roberts (eds.) Christopher Marlowe and English Renaissance Culture (Scholar, 1996)
  • ‘Foreign Policy’ in D. MacCulloch (ed.), The Reign of Henry VIII: Politics, Policy and Piety (London: Macmillan, 1995), pp.101-33, 238-41, 267-76.
  • ‘The Treaty of Redon (1489)’ pp.415-6 ; ‘The Treaty of Etaples (1492), pp.185-6; ‘The Anglo-French War of 1543-46’, pp.15-18; ‘The Treaty of Greenwich (1543)’, pp.219-20; ‘The Anglo-French War of 1549-50’, pp.18-20; ‘The Treaty of Angers (1551)’, pp.8-9  in R. Fritz (ed.), An Historical Dictionary of Tudor England (Westport: Greenwood Press, 1991).


  • ‘Politics and Faction at the French Court from the late Middle Ages to the Renaissance: the development of a political culture.’ (2011) (website for the study of the French Court).
  • ‘Documents sur la fin du règne de François Ier et l’avènement de Henri II (1547): les déépêches de Jean de Saint-Mauris’ (2011).
  • ‘Politics and Faction at the Court of Francis I: the duchesse d’Etampes, Montmorency and the Dauphin Henri’, French History, July 2007, pp.1-20
  • ‘The Constable’s brother: the role of François de Montmorency seigneur, de La Rochepot in French public life under François Ier and Henri II’  Nottingham Medieval Studies, 48 (2005), 141-97.
  • ‘Sir John Gage, Tudor Courtier and Soldier (1479-1556)’, English Historical Review, 117 (2002), 1111-1146.
  • ‘The French Protestant nobility in 1562: the ‘Associacion de Monseigneur le prince de Condé’ French History, 15,3 (2001), 307-328
  • ‘Anglo-French Relations 1500: the Aftermath of the Hundred Years War’, Franco-British Studies, 28 (1999/2000), 41-66
  • ‘“Rigueur de justice”: Crime, Murder and the Law in Picardy, fifteenth-sixteenth centuries’, French History, 11, iii (1997) 265-309
  • ‘The international mercenary market in the sixteenth century: Anglo-French competition in Germany, 1543-1550’ English Historical Review, 111 vol.440 (1996) 24-58
  • ‘Kingship in the Wars of Religion: the reputation of Henri III of France’, European History Quarterly, 25 (1995) 484-527
  • ‘Les Allemands et les armées françaises’ seconde partie, Francia 21/2 (1994), 1-62
  • ‘Les Allemands et les armées françaises au XVIe siècle: Jean-Philippe Rhingrave, chef de lansquenets: étude suivie de sa correspondance en France’ première partie Francia 20/2 (1993), 1-20
  • ‘The Luxembourg inheritance: the house of Bourbon and its lands in northern France during the sixteenth century’ French History, 6 (1992), 24-62
  • ‘A treason trial in sixteenth-century France: the fall of marshal du Biez, 1549-51’ English Historical Review, 105 (1990), 595-623
  • ‘Marriage and cruelty among the Protestant nobility of sixteenth-century France’ European History Quarterly, 20 (1990), 5-38
  • ‘An Englishman’s view of the court of Henri III, 1584-85’, French History, 2, no.3 (1988), 312-44.
  • ‘Documents Concerning the negotiation of the Anglo-French Treaty of March 1550’, Camden Miscellany, fourth series, 29 (1984), 58-180.
  • ‘The duc de Guise and the fall of Calais, 1557-58’, English Historical Review, 98 (1983), 483-512.
  • ‘French intrigue in Ireland during the reign of Henri II, 1547-59’, International History Review, 5, no.2 (1983), 159-80.
  • ‘The Treaty of Boulogne and European diplomacy, 1549-50’, Bulletin of the Institute of Historical Research, 55, no.131 (1982), 50-65.
  • ‘Foreign policy in the age of the Reformation: French involvement in the Schmalkaldic War, 1544-47’, Historical Journal 30,3 (1977), 525-544.
  • ‘International politics and naval jurisdiction in the sixteenth century: the Case of François de Montmorency’, European Studies Review, 7 (1977), 1-27.

Book Reviews

  • Review: Cedric Michon, La crosse et le sceptre: les prélats d’Etat sous François Ier et Henri VIII Paris: Tallandier, 2008. H-France review10 (2010), 306-10
  • Review: ‘Court of Courts’, M. Châtenet, La cour de France au XVIe siècle (Paris: Picard, 2002), The Court Historian 7,2 (2002, pub.2003), 157-63
  • Review: R.J. Knecht, Renaissance Warrior and Patron: the Reign of Francis I (Cambridge, 1994), European Hist. Quar.  26 (Jan.1996), 149-56
  • ‘Seventeenth-century European History’, Annual Bulletin of Historical Literature, 68 (1982), 107-24.
  • ‘Seventeenth-century European History’, Annual Bulletin of Historical Literature, 67 (1981), 105-18.


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Last Updated: 15/08/2014